Business License Tax

Per Chapter 11 of the Arlington County Code, the Commissioner of Revenue licenses and assesses a business license tax on every business in Arlington, including home-based businesses and accessory home-stay rentals (Air BnB, etc.) for individuals renting or leasing houses, apartments, part of their own residences, or other types of dwellings, including vacation and transient rentals.

Businesses must submit a business license return, and make any payment required by 11:59 p.m. on March 1 of each year.  All businesses are strongly encouraged to file and pay online via CAPP, the Customer Assessment and Payment Portal.

Business license taxes are usually based on a business’s previous year’s gross receipts.

  • Businesses having less than $10,000 in gross receipts owe no tax.
  • Businesses grossing between $10,001 and $50,000 pay a flat fee of $30.00.
  • Businesses grossing between $50,001 and $100,000 pay a flat fee of $50.00.
  • Businesses with gross receipts in excess of $100,000 will utilize a tax rate dependent on their business activities to determine the tax due.

Qualified Technology Businesses

The Arlington County Board has determined that certain classes of high technology businesses, as defined by Chapter 66 of the Arlington County Code, may qualify for reduced tax rates.  If a company believes it qualifies for those reduced rates, they should apply via the CAPP, the Customer Assessment and Payment Portal. 

Instructions:

1.  Sign up for CAPP.

2.  Once logged into your account, click "Business License".

3.  In the top right hand corner, find "I Want To".

4.  Click on "Apply Qualified Technology Business".

Peddlers, Itinerant Vendors, Beer and Wine wholesalers, and Others

Although there are special situations where flat fees apply, such as for peddlers, itinerant vendors, beer and wine wholesalers, and a few other occupations, the reporting basis for most taxpayers is the previous year’s gross receipts for each business.  Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 for questions.

COVID-19 Taxable Gross Receipts

Pursuant to Va. Code § 58.1-3732 (A)(4) and Virginia Administrative Code, extraordinary COVID-19 loans/grants such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and AED’s Small Business Emergency GRANT program can be excluded from taxable gross receipts when filing your Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax returns. PPP loans that are not yet forgiven are expressly excluded from gross receipts for purposes of computing County BPOL; Tax Commissioner PD 21-12.

Administrative Appeals

Arlington County categorizes the various businesses subject to the business license tax into various classifications that determine the tax rate applicable to each type of business.  These classifications and rates are described in Chapter 11 of the county code.

If you believe that your business has been improperly assessed, you may file an administrative appeal with the Commissioner of Revenue.  The requirements and procedures for filing such an appeal are described here.

More information

  • The business of renting houses, apartments or other types of dwelling units means the renting of buildings or portions of buildings, each of which is designed for residential occupancy as a single dwelling unit. “Dwelling unit” means a room or rooms connected together, with independent kitchen and sleeping facilities.
  • All activities conducted by a business at one (1) location must obtain one (1) business license that includes all of those activities.
  • Businesses having more than one (1) location, even though under the same ownership, must obtain a separate business license for each location.
  • You will not be able to download a business license return from our website. You will need to file online through our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP).
  • Please call the Business Tax Division at 703-228-3060 with any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I renew my business license?

Businesses must renew their business license(s) annually by filing, and paying if applicable, online via our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP) by March 1st 11:59 PM EST.

How do I obtain a blank copy of the business license tax form?

The Commissioner of Revenue’s Office has discontinued the printing and mailing of Business License tax forms. You must register and file your returns online via our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP).

How do I obtain copy of my business license certificate?

For customers who have filed, and paid if applicable, their business license tax returns, certificates are generated and mailed in late March and early April. The Commissioner of Revenue’s Office will discontinue the printing and mailing of Business License Tax Certificates. We recommend you register on our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP) to download and print your Certificate(s) online by clicking on BLC Account, Correspondence, View Letters, Business License Certificate.

Can I mail my filing/payment the day before or on the due date?

Businesses must renew their business license(s) by filing, and paying if applicable, online via our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP) by March 1st 11:59 PM EST. If you choose to mail it, we recommend you personally witness the postmark being placed on your envelope. Pursuant to Virginia Administrative Code, the postmark date is used to determine if a tax filing, and payment if applicable, constitutes a timely filing and/or payment. If your mailing is received after the due date with a late postmark, the payment will be considered late, and a 10% late filing penalty will apply.

Please note the USPS only postmarks certain mail depending on the type of postage, and they may not postmark mail the same day you delivered it or deposited in a mailbox. If we receive a payment without a postmark, we will consider it received on the date it physically comes into our office and may be subject to the 10% late filing penalty.   

Can I get a filing deadline extension?

Businesses must renew their business license(s) annually by March 1st 11:59 PM EST. No filing extensions will be granted. We recommend that you file timely online via our Customer Assessment Payment Portal (CAPP) and amend later if needed.

Can my late filing penalty be waived?

Late filings are subject to a 10% late filing penalty. To be considered for a waiver of late filing penalty, you must demonstrate that the failure to file timely was not the fault of the taxpayer. Virginia Code § 58.1-3916 and Arlington Code §11-20 states that to demonstrate lack of fault, the taxpayer must show both that he acted responsibly and that the failure was due to events beyond his control. Please refer to the Code and submit your request along with supporting evidence to business@arlingtonva.us.

I logged into CAPP and my balance is $0. Is my filing complete?

No, this is not a complete filing. When you log into CAPP, you must click on the BLC Account and file a return. Once you enter your gross receipts, the tax amount due will appear for payment. You must file a return, even if your gross receipts are zero, to avoid a possible statutory (estimated) assessment.

I am a contractor; do I need a business license?

All contractors doing business in Arlington County are required to have a business license. If your situs is in another VA jurisdiction or state, you are not required to file unless your gross receipts in Arlington exceed $25,000 annually per Virginia Code § 58.1-3715.

To obtain a business license, all contractors must register with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) and should provide a copy of their current state license, and a copy of the Contractor's Certification of Workers' Compensation Insurance Acknowledgement letter.

Are PPP Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants, and County grants included in “gross receipts” for purposes of computing BPOL taxes?

Pursuant to Virginia Code § 58.1-3732 (A)(4) and Virginia Administrative Code, extraordinary COVID-19 loans/grants such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and AED’s Small Business Emergency GRANT program can be excluded from taxable gross receipts when filing your Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax returns. PPP loans that are not yet forgiven are expressly excluded from gross receipts for purposes of computing County BPOL; Tax Commissioner PD 21-12.